Yesterday we decided to visit the Musee D’Orsay and planned to have lunch there. We went to Le Restaurant and were met with the amazing room shown above. The former restaurant of the Hôtel d’Orsay, on the first floor of the museum, is still as magnificent as it was when it opened in 1900. The sobriety of the new construction by the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte sets off the dazzling chandeliers and the painted and gilded ceilings of this dining room, listed as a Historic Monument. The room is drop dead gorgeous.
We sat down and I ordered some pate for a starter which we shared and bottle of white Sancerre. Before the appetizer arrived, the waitress brought a cute little square plastic bag, filled with ice and water which she placed on the table. She then opened the wine and placed it in the bag. It is called the “Ice Bag”.
This is the most clever wine cooler I have ever seen, we checked on Amazon, they have them in different colors for five to ten dollars. What a great way to bring wine the next time you are invited to dinner.
The appetizer was plated beautifully, as seen to the right, with a line of cold sweet potatoes at the top, punctuated by slices of cold beets. The pate was delicious as well, the only thing that spoiled it was the dry piece of bread to the side. Fortunately they also brought fresh French bread.
This brings me to my entree, the beef tartar. At its best, beef tartare is primal and delicious stuff: Itsy bitsy pieces of raw red meat cling together and make for bold, blissful eating. Like good sushi, tartare ought to be made with fresh product and should be enhanced with a light seasoning. The morsels of beef practically melt in your mouth and the egg yolk, mustard, capers and minced shallot provide the meat with just the right amount of attitude. My favorite comes from Red Square in Las Vegas.
This was not to be my day for that lovely experience. The dish shown to the left shows my tartar, about half a pound of ground beef with almost no seasoning. To be fair they did crack a quail egg on top. There was too much beef and beef tartar is always minced, never ground, grinding takes away all the texture. It tasted just like the ground beef I get in the supermarket since there were little to no additional ingredients. It was inedible and frankly I was concerned about the freshness of the product. The chef, Yann Landureau should be ashamed.
Lisa’s roast beef was good, but we left without desert since I basically did not get to eat lunch. Sorry for the negative reviews lately but I call them like I see them. Probably there are other dishes on the menu that are edible and the room is beautiful.
On the way out, I took a picture of this beautiful bust of Sarah Bernhardt by Louis Abbema from 1878. It turned out that this was the only picture I took there since they forbid pictures in the entire museum. This is a pet peeve of mine, I understand no flash photography but restricting my right to take pictures of what my eyes can see is somehow wrong. I believe it is a form of censorship and not in keeping with lofty goals of a museum.
Moreover, after wandering around for a while, we made a wrong turn and ended up in the gift shop. We were told we could not return to the museum even though we still had our tickets. I will not be returning to the D’Orsay, you must make your own decision.